This tutorial shows how to paper piece which is also known as foundation piecing. Perfect points and angles are so much easier to do by using this quilting technique.
Paper piecing is used for making easy flying geese blocks. Your flying geese blocks will always have perfect points using paper piecing!
There are many paper piecing patterns available for free all around the internet. Some are even Fandom paper piecing projects which can create some really fun quilts. Look near the end of this article for some photos of paper pieced blocks we have done from Fandom Harry Potter and Star Wars patterns.
Watch our video and read the instructions below to learn how to do it.
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SOME GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS:
- Use a larger sewing machine needle (size 90/14)
- Use a smaller stitch length of 15 to 18 stitches per inch
- Stitching will be done on the printed side of the pattern starting with #1 and continuing in numeric order
- Fabric is placed on the unprinted side
- When cutting fabric to cover a section, a general rule is: Bigger is Better
- Rotary Cutter
- Rotary Mat
- Paper for Foundation Patterns
- Add-A-Quarter Ruler
STEP 1: COPY OR PRINT THE PATTERN
Print or copy the paper piecing pattern on foundation paper. We like using the Papers In Foundation Piecing Paper found through the link. This paper is lighter weight than normal printer paper but can still be used in an inkjet or another printer. Using a lighter weight paper is recommended as it's easier to remove later.
STEP 2: CUT FIRST FABRIC
Cut the first piece of fabric for #1 larger than the area to cover. Make sure you have allowed enough for seam allowances. This fabric piece is placed with the wrong side of the fabric against the back of the paper. Place it over the #1 space on the pattern, covering the entire area. If the piece is next to the seam allowance, be sure to cover the entire seam allowance also. On the printed side of the paper, pin the fabric place.
STEP 3: FOLD PAPER AND TRIM SEAM ALLOWANCE
Take the straight edge of the add-a-quarter ruler along the line between #1 & #2 numbered sections and fold the paper back.
Now place the lip of the add-a-quarter ruler along the fold and trim the excess fabric. This makes the seam allowance 1/4".
STEP 4: CUT NEXT FABRIC
Cut the second piece of fabric large enough to cover #2 including enough for any seam allowance. Again make sure it extends well beyond the area to be covered. If the seam is angled, you will need an even larger piece. Practice folding back the fabric along the seam line to see if it will cover the whole #2 section.
With right sides together, place the edge of the fabric along the previously cut edge. Pinning it in place is optional.
STEP 5: SEW ON STITCHING LINE
With printed side up, place it under sewing machine foot and stitch, beginning stitching one or two stitches before the sewing line and end with one or two stitches beyond the sewing line.
Remember to set your stitch length shorter than normal. Usually around 15 - 18 stitches per inch. This helps when paper piecing very small pieces together and make it easier to remove the paper later.
If the seam line ends at the seam allowance, sew all the way over the seam allowance.
STEP 6: Press seam open
Turn to the side with the fabric and press open the seam. You can use a pressing stick or an iron. I prefer to keep a small iron and little ironing board next to my sewing machine. I can iron the piece open without getting up from my seat. This helps the paper piecing project move faster.
STEP 7: Continue Adding Fabrics
Repeat steps 3 - 6 until all of the pieces for the block have been sewn. The next piece to sew would be the area marked as #3 on the pattern, so in step 3, fold the paper on the line between the area marked as #2 and #3.
Below is a photo of the finished block.
Do not remove the paper from your blocks until your entire project is completed. After everything has been stitched together, you can remove the paper. The paper helps keep the blocks from stretching and also is good to use to line up the blocks when sewing them together.
This is an example of this finished paper pieced project. We finished it into a table runner.
Paper Piecing Block or Quilt Samples
Some other examples of paper pieced blocks and projects are below. Links to where to find the patterns are included.
First is a mini quilt pattern scrappy carrots. The pattern is available for FREE from the website Diary of a Quilter and is by Amy Smart. The guest blog post, Foundation Paper Pieced Carrots Mini Quilt by Leila Gardunia has a link to the free pattern to download and a full tutorial. This is a perfect pattern for a beginner and fun to make. I added an extra border to my version of this mini quilt.
Another fun and easy project to make are paper pieced veggie potholders. Click the link to find out more about these super fun to make paper pieced potholders and to get the free pattern.
Next, are some fandom blocks we've made from Harry Potter and Star Wars. Keep reading to learn where to find these blocks.
Another fun type of piecing which also uses foundation paper is String Piecing. Learn how to String Piece with foundation paper by clicking the link to our tutorial page.
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